Earliest War Victims Lived Brutal Lives

//

Sometimes, old bones have new stories to tell.

A collection of skeletons from 13,000 years ago, recovered from the east bank of the Nile river in the 1960s, are revealing what could be the oldest known victims of a war, according to news reports.

The skeletons are marked with slashes, embedded metal shards and bone breaks from what experts say were unmistakably arrowheads, some lashed to the top of long-decayed wooden poles. The injuries were gruesome.

PHOTOS: Faces of Our Ancestors

Renee Friedman, curator of the British Museum's new Early Egypt exhibit, told The Guardian newspaper: "Often with remains from such an ancient time, we will never know what happened to them. With these skeletons there is no question: we found arrow heads lodged in spines, spear points that had pierced eye sockets, and many that clearly died under a hail of arrows. The lives and deaths of these people were not nice."

Among the skeletons were many women and children, which shows that the times they lived in were brutal. Experts think that resources were scarce in the area, which was cold and dry with little fertile land.

The region was in the throes of abrupt climate change 13,000 years ago, in a period called The Younger Dryas. During that time, Earth's climate began a shift to a warmer period from a cold, glacial world.

PHOTOS: What Our Ancestors Looked Like

But in the midst of that warming, melting glaciers cooled the North Atlantic Ocean and land temperatures suddenly plunged, according to the National Climactic Data Center (NOAA).

Toward the end of The Younger Dryas, land temperatures shot up again -- 18 degrees Farenheit (10 Celcius) in a decade, NOAA said.

Consequently, the people of northern Sudan, while hardy, strong boned and jawed, were struggling and likely constantly fought over resources, The Guardian said. The British Museum skeletons are evidence of that.

They were found, in the 1960s, in a cemetery, carefully placed lying on their sides, heads to the south and facing east, toward the Nile's source and the rising sun, the Guardian said.

The Jebel Sahaba cemetery skeletons were collected quickly, before the area was flooded to create a dam. The British Museum housed them for decades before archaeologists started looking at them closely again.

DISCOVERYnewsletter
 
Invalid Email